Noilly Prattle: China 2017: 11 – kaleidoscopic kaverns

Saturday, June 3, 2017

China 2017: 11 – kaleidoscopic kaverns

[黄龙洞] Huang Long Dong 
(Yellow Dragon Cave)

the #1 bus
     On our last day in Wulingyuan we decided to get adventurous and take a local bus (the #1 bus) to Huang Long Dong. So we boarded the #1 right in front of our hotel, paid the 1 yuan (14 cents) fare and headed east for the cave—a 15-minute ride. The bus was very local with market ladies and their market baskets riding to the open air market that we passed on the way.

       The cave is fronted by a beautiful park with a very peculiar building at the entrance. The roof curves up and is covered with grass and shrubbery. The park is a landscape design reminiscent of some Japanese landscape gardens but on a much larger scale. 

       There is an odd sculpture of a monkey musing over a human skull—a kind of mockery of Hamlet contemplating Yorick's skull in Shakespeare's play. An inscription on the base recommends that we humans should honor and protect nature or a monkey will be pondering a human skull in the not too distant future. 

       Another unique feature in the park is a large display of waterwheels many of which are inter- connected causing reverse spinning on neighboring wheels. It was possible to mount a display and by using the foot pedals make the wheel on the right turn.

waiting to form a group tour
       Road Buddy didn't want to go into the cave, so I went in alone. I planned to walk around on my own and leave the cave when I felt like it. That was not to be. I had to wait for enough people to form a tour group. (It was not allowed to wander around alone, but it turned out to be all for the best.)

       The cavern is vast and atmo- spherically colored with thousands of lights highlighting the various formations typical of limestone caverns. After a short walk the group came to a vast cavern filled with water (a river runs through the cavern) and boarded a boat for a 10 or 15 minute ride to another landing. I was stunned to see a very long staircase outlined in white light winding its way up to an apparently dark infinity. I had expected a simple stroll through a few tunnels, but had to get my head wrapped around the reality of having to climb hundreds of steps—no turning back. (I must have climbed over 1000 steps up and down in the course of the tour.) The tour guide looked at me once with an are-you-all-right expression on her face. I just smiled wanly and nodded.


             Being the only Caucasian on the tour I was an object of some curiosity, especially to giggly young women. A couple of young ladies asked to take selfie pictures with me on their smart phones and, of course, I good naturedly complied. One such young woman obliged me by taking my camera and shooting me sitting in front of the highest stalagmite in the cave. Words beggar description of the fantasy world of the cavern, photos tell the story much better.

19.2 meters tall - insured 
for 100,000,000 yuan ($14+ million)

       Just a small aside before bidding farewell to Wulingyuan. The Chinese appear to be very fond of glass—glass elevators (like Bailong), glass bottom bridges and cliff-walks (which we didn't venture on) . . . and glass toilets and showers (which are unavoidable).

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